Gay Republican Candidate Features Partner In Ad

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Carl DeMaio/Flickr

(CNN) -- An openly gay Republican running for Congress released a video on Wednesday that appears to be the first of its kind: A political ad explicitly featuring footage of him and his same-sex partner.

Carl DeMaio, who's challenging a Democratic incumbent for a House seat in California, is seen in the video holding hands with his partner of five years, Johnathan Hale, at an LGBT pride parade.

The video, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, paints DeMaio as a "new generation Republican" and "a problem solver who isn't afraid to be different."

The narrator says over an image of DeMaio hoisting an LGBT pride flag that "he believes in equality and diversity, and he's a defender of our personal freedoms,"

So far, the video can only be seen on the Web, but his campaign hopes to turn it into a television spot.

A campaign spokesman said they will keep the shot of DeMaio and his partner in the shorter version.

His campaign claims it's the first congressional video of either political party to feature a candidate's same-sex partner.

Stuart Rothenberg, a leading nonpartisan political handicapper, said he wouldn't be surprised if this was indeed the first example.

"Other openly gay candidates in the past didn't want to draw that much attention to it," he said. "They may have acknowledged it publicly-they weren't trying to hide it-but putting it in an ad is another step."

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, featured his husband, whom he wed in Canada, in an ad once, but he was not specifically introduced as his partner. Pocan was elected in 2012.

Rothenberg described DeMaio's video as an "interesting development" that probably reflects cultural changes, such as the growing number of states legalizing same-sex marriage and polling data indicating more Americans supporting the right for gay couples to legally wed.

He also argued it could be a political tactic by DeMaio to deflect Democratic attacks hitting him as a tea party supporter.

"Maybe he's going out of his way to offer some ammunition that rebuts a Democratic caricature of him," he said.

DeMaio is one of three openly gay Republicans running for a House seat this year. A former city councilman, he's challenging Democratic Rep. Scott Peters for a seat that's widely considered a possible pick-up for Republicans.

DeMaio ran for San Diego mayor in 2012, but lost to the now-disgraced Democrat Bob Filner, who resigned after facing a barrage of sexual harassment claims.

Former state lawmaker Richard Tisei of Massachusetts and businessman Dan Innis of New Hampshire - both openly gay - are also running for Congress as Republicans.

Asked by CNN's Dana Bash in November whether the GOP should support the party's openly gay candidates, House Speaker John Boehner said: "I do."

There are currently seven openly gay members of the House and Senate.


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